from kbytes to petabytesPosted: March 17, 2013
In 1975 I took a job as a computer operator at Chi Corporation. Named Chi ( for the letter X ) because in its formulation they always called it “X” corporation and when it was time to pick a name they decided on the Greek word for X.
I heard once the computer cost over four million dollars. It had exactly 512K of memory. It had four drum printers the size of small swing sets and fourteen large tape drives, each the size of a refrigerator. The console had a big panel of lights that in the event of a crash had to be manually recorded to find the memory address of the error, and a dump tape had to be manually mounted to collect the crash data.
We would be watching the lights in their mesmerizing dance, printers drumming with the stacato ta-ta-ta-ta-ta the card readers shlupp-pa-pa-pa as researchers and companies loaded programs or data when suddenly the world would stop, a quiet so loud it hurt, and we would sprint to the console to find the dread red error light illuminated.
One night I loaded forty boxes of cards for a company. There was no backspace on a punch card, holes cannot be erased.
The disk weighed two and one half tons called a Fastrand, it was a gigantic cylinder with fixed heads along the entire length. It provided and astounding 100 megabytes of storage at the cost of about $130,000.
Did you realize that your cell phone dwarfs the power of the original mainframe computers?
Will future computers have a soul? Hard to say, they will have the brain power, but if they are self aware who can know?